The UK's largest pub company Punch Taverns today reported a slide in sales, adding further weight to claims the sector is in crisis.
Punch, which has more than 7,500 pubs, said like-for-like contribution from its leased estate had tumbled 3.4% in the year to 23 August.
Within its 864-strong managed estate, like for-like sales were 3.3% lower than a year ago.
To help struggling publicans, facing falling consumer spending, higher utility costs and a drop in trade form the smoking ban, Punch has spent £6m on rent concessions for lessees.
Despite the tough trading conditions, the pub company said it remained confident of delivering full year earnings in line with expectations when it reports them on 4 November.
The announcement comes a day after Greene King also reported a slide in sales and follows warnings at the weekend from the British Beer & Pub Association that the industry now faced its worse crisis for seventy years.
Punch also confirmed that HM Revenue & Customs had given it clearance to convert to tax-efficient Real Estate Investment Trust status, although the company confirmed it is still weighing up the pros and cons of such a move.
By Chris Druce
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